Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #25:
Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray (and the
upcoming Summer Blog Blast Tour extraordinaire)

h1 May 14th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

We here at 7-Imp are taking a break this week from chatting with The Blue Rose Girls (we’ll get to know Libby Koponen a bit more two weeks from now). And, during the interim, we’re going to take some time to chat with the smart, opinionated, dauntless go-getter of Chasing Ray, Colleen Mondor.

If you don’t frequent Chasing Ray, why then, we hope we can change your mind and turn you into a regular reader. Colleen states at the site itself that Chasing Ray is “all about the literary world and my place within it.” Even that sounds modest, ’cause when you visit her blog, you’re always rewarded — with detailed, thoughtful reviews on specific titles or her always-passionate take on general topics in the realm of literature, such as this post on the importance of print book reviews in today’s increasingly-prevalent online world, this post on blog tours, this post on censorship, or this post in which she spoke out about the recent comments that have been swirling around cyber-space about unpaid book-reviewing via blogs. She’ll occasionally keep you up-to-date on the blogosphere’s goings-on, such as she did here; she’s really knowledgeable and enthusiastic about YA literature; and she’ll sometimes write very candidly about her own fiction-writing or write beautiful personal posts, such as this one about her father and her son.

When asked if Chasing Ray (whose title is an homage to Ray Bradbury: “He’s my favorite writer {always has been} and as a writer, I am ‘chasing’ his creativity. The name pretty much came out of nowhere, and then it stuck”) had any regular features, Colleen told us no, but she’s always consistent and archives her posts with general categories (so, if you read, say, one of her essay reviews, you can check her archives to find even more) — not to mention she’s recently started her Wicked Cool Overlooked Books feature, in which she will talk on the first Monday of every month about those books you can’t forget. And she’s inviting other bloggers to join in. Several others participated last Monday at their own blogs, talking up those titles that they felt were stellar but didn’t get enough attention when first published. Jen Robinson talked up Francisco X. Stork’s Behind the Eyes here; Kelly Herold talked up T.K. Welsh’s The Unresolved here; and Kelly Fineman re-visited Stephanie Hemphill’s Your Own, Sylvia here. Colleen herself covered Curtis Crist-Evans’ Amaryllis here. As Colleen has stated before:

A major part of why I wanted to review in the first place was to let the world know about books that I thought were neglected or forgotten. I am always looking in catalogs for books that I think might get overlooked. Sometimes I end up just jumping on the bandwagon (albeit a little earlier than most — see King Dork for an example), but a lot of times I really get the satisfaction of writing about a book and then hearing from readers who had not heard about it and were thrilled to know the book existed.

Bookslut's logoColleen also reviews at Bookslut. She handles reviews for the “booksluts in training: the young and the young at heart. But mostly just the young,” and an archive of those columns is here (check out this great feature from the November 2005 issue about Chris Crutcher’s The Hill for an example of Colleen’s fine writing). But she also does so much more: if you go here, voila! You’ll see an archive of all Colleen’s articles and features, including reviews of adult fiction titles, many of her interviews, and more. Her most recent “Bookslut in Training” column, entitled “Murder in the Faerie Realm,” from the May 2007 issue is here (and here’s the piece from May 2004 that she wrote about the relatively unknown works of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, one of her favorite writers; this is the one that started it all, marking her first piece for Bookslut).

Eclectica's logo
But that’s not all. She also reviews for Booklist (“I like reviewing for Booklist because I think libraries are critical to this whole thing we call ‘civilization,'” she writes at Chasing Ray) and is the YA reviewer for Eclectica Magazine, a literary magazine that celebrated its tenth year online in 2006. Colleen also wrote at her blog that — after the sudden death of Eclectica’s Reviews Editor, Kevin McGowin, in January 2005 — she herself became Reviews Editor for the online magazine.

And Colleen contributes as well to the Voices of New Orleans, a website which continues coverage of the efforts to rebuild the city after the devastating appearance of Katrina. The blog arose from the publication of the essay collection Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? from Chin Music Press. Colleen writes at her site, “I review books that are about New Orleans and Southern Louisiana in an effort to remind people of how valuable the region is to all of us.” She adds that it is “a community of passionate, eloquent writers who care deeply about what happens to the Big Easy. This blog became a natural extension of the book. It’s our way of adding voices to the unfolding story of New Orleans.”

Colleen’s “About Chasing Ray” page at her site gives a bit more information for those wondering about her own fiction-writing, how she became a reviewer for Booklist and Bookslut, and more.

Colleen’s current project is the Summer Blog Blast Tour (SBBT), which you may have already read about (here or here) at her site or elsewhere. Here’s the scoop:

I have organized the first Summer Blog Blast Tour to run the week of June 17th with 18 different literary blogs participating. We lined up 25 authors, including Chris Crutcher, Ysabeau Wilce, Justine Larbalestier, Gene Yang, Kirsten Miller, Eddie Campbell, Dana Reinhardt and Holly Black to participate. Several of them will be giving multiple interviews at more than one blog over the course of the week. My goal is to not only provide our readers with a host of authors to consider for their summer reading but more importantly to show the depth and breadth of the authors writing books for children and teens. I also like the idea of showing that a group of lit bloggers can do a big positive thing for the literary world. I think author interviews are a nice complement to discussions on books and I’m looking forward to all the conversations the Blast Tour will present.

Colleen’s worked really hard on securing the interviews and has really backed the project with an enthusiasm and passion that has energized all the bloggers involved. A full schedule of blogs and authors will be up at Colleen’s site the Friday before the SBBT begins.

Colleen was raised on the East Coast of Florida and lived in Alaska for ten years after college. She now lives with her son and dog (she has written candidly before about the fact that she and her husband are both cancer survivors, too) in the Pacific Northwest. “It looks like Alaska, but is a lot warmer,” she writes at her site.

As one of our readers said, “I’m so glad you’re going to feature Colleen! She’s my favorite ‘give-em-hell’ girl!” We’d have to agree that we love that about Colleen, too. So, let’s chat with her for a bit. (And we thank her for taking the time to talk with us).

{Perfunctory Curse Word Disclaimer: Remember that we use the Pivot Questionnaire in our interviews. Remember that it includes the what-is-your-favorite-curse-word question. It’s optional for folks to answer, but if they do, we will not edit their responses in any way; yup, we’ll post their responses exactly as they send them to us. Some people might not use “*”s to edit their saucy words. If you’re easily offended, just don’t read that question}.

* * * * * * *

7-Imp: What do you do for a living?

Colleen: My husband and I own an aircraft leasing business. It began when we were still in AK and we now have aircraft in three different states.

7-Imp: How long have you been blogging?

Colleen: A year and a half.

7-Imp: Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?

Colleen: I had been writing for Bookslut for over a year and getting some great feedback from members of the lit blogosphere and decided to give it a shot. I was also eager to create a place where I could blog sometimes about my writing and engage other writers and that in particular has been very helpful to me.

I continue blogging because I like talking books with other folks who like books.

7-Imp: Which blog or site would you take to the prom to show off and you love it so much you could marry it?

Colleen: Gwenda Bond’s at Shaken & Stirred and Jenny D. at her blog – both of them have given me a ton of great reading ideas and I enjoy their insightful comments on all things literary.

7-Imp: What are your other favorite things to do, other than reading and blogging?

Colleen: Mostly, I have a little boy and a lot of the day is spent doing things with him. Also I’m a writer so I spend a lot of time doing that. And there is Pilates and the weight lifting thing (all those goals to meet!). Summer is coming (finally!) and we will be hopefully kayaking. We try to get outside as much as possible when the weather is good, as it can be crazy rainy here all winter.

7-Imp: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Colleen: When I loved in Alaska some friends of mine had a garage-type rock band after work and cut a CD. I wrote lyrics for about a half dozen of the songs, all of them based on something in my life. (Cecil Castellucci will appreciate that one was about French Canadian history.) Everyone has moved away and moved on, but I still play the CD and love knowing that once I was part of making some great music.

7-Imp: What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/iPod lately?

Colleen: When the weather gets warm we open up the house and blast some major rock during the day – U2, Springsteen, Melissa Etheridge, Guns N’ Roses, Janis Joplin, Skynyrd, Beth Hart (Have you heard her song “Bottle of Jesus”? Fantastic!) and the very underrated Lisa Marie Presley. The hotter it gets, the more often Jimmy Buffet will show up in the rotation (you can take the girl out of FL but you can’t ever take away Buffet) . . .

When it comes to music with lyrics I want to listen to and think about, I love The Duhks, Marc Broussard, Patty Scialfa, and I’m lately obsessed with the Johnny Cash song, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.”

Ray Bradbury7-Imp: If you could have three (living) authors over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?

Colleen: Ray Bradbury, Philip Pullman, and Justine Larbalestier. There would be much discussion on all things science fiction and fantasy.

The Pivot Questionnaire:

7-Imp: What is your favorite word?

Colleen: “Cure.”

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?

Colleen: “Lucky.”

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Colleen: Good intense music (rock, blues, soul, etc.), good well-written stories -– characters that fight their hardest for everything that matters to them. Specifically, the comic book Dorothy from Illusive Arts is blowing me away lately, and I just have to watch some Buffy reruns to remind me how great a good writer can tell a story.

And Bradbury –- whenever I worry about the world, I read Bradbury.

7-Imp: What turns you off?

Colleen: Taking the easy way out.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word?

Colleen: Always and forever, “fuck.”

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?

Colleen: My son’s laughter – it makes everyone else laugh, too.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?

Colleen: Political commentators who like the sound of their own voice more than contributing to problems at hand.

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Colleen: Curator at a history museum.

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?

Colleen: Customer service at an airline.

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Colleen: “Your Daddy is right over there” . . . and then I would start running, because at the chance of seeing my father again, I don’t have time to waste hanging out with God.

17 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #25:
Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray (and the
upcoming Summer Blog Blast Tour extraordinaire)”

  1. Thanks so much for this guys – it is one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me.

  2. Thanks, Jules and Eisha. Another chance to get to know a fellow blogger/writer better!

    And, Colleen’s last answer made me cry, I’ll admit it!

    Also, can I come to your dinner too, Colleen? Sounds like a great combination of writers.

  3. Hey, Kelly. You and Colleen not only adore the same writers but are the same age, too (she offered up her age in the interview, but adding it some place in the write-up — as in, “38-year old Colleen . . .” — just seemed weird somehow, like we were matching her up with someone in a dating service) 🙂 But she did say that she read your interview here at 7-Imp and that you were the same age.

    {Now, I’m pretty sure, like Colleen said, that you’ve offered up your age before, so I hope I didn’t just make you cringe (I, personally, don’t get those women who are always hiding their age). Thirty-almost-forty is beautiful! Woo hoo! Say it with pride, right?!}

  4. Ah, to be 38 again, Jules!

    I just turned 4-0 a month ago. I dreaded 39, but once 40 was here it was sort of, oh well. Here I am. Squarely middle aged 🙂

  5. Well, Kelly, we weren’t too far off on your age.

    Happy belated birthday, too.

  6. Great interview. Thanks for all the links. I think what I like about her reviews is that they read like well thought out essays, with plenty of details and a completely honest, trust-worthy voice. Ditto for her thoughts on controversial topics. Lots of people can yell. Only a few can truly kick ass.

  7. Thanks for another great interview, Eisha and Jules. It’s especially nice to see a picture of Colleen, after emailing with her, and reading back and forth, over the past year and a half.

    I can also second your statement about the “enthusiasm and passion” that Colleen has brought to the SBBT. I’m so pleased to have been included.

    On a side note, perhaps some of my kindred-spiritness with both Kelly and Colleen comes from being near in age… Let’s just say that I’m a few short months younger than Kelly and leave it at that.

  8. Great interview. I love reading Chasing Ray, but it’s one of the ones I leave for last, because I know I have to take time to read it slowly and think about it.

    And the answer to the last question made me cry, too.

  9. Colleen is such an interesting, accomplished woman. It’s great finding more about her. Thanks!

  10. Kudos, Colleen.

    What a personal, powerful answer to that last question.

    Yay, E&J!

  11. What a great interview! I am of course a huge Chasing Ray fan…

  12. YAY! Excellent post, guys, and thanks very much for highlighting our SBBT organizer. Colleen really rocks!

  13. You guys are all so nice – this whole entry has really made my day a lot better. (And as all of you read my site, you understand just why I needed this so much.)

  14. I’m always crying by the time I get the end of these interviews. This is a rockin’ one (har har — I don’t have any Lisa Marie but maybe I will by this afternoon). Thanks!

  15. Fabulous interview! You guys rock–I’m having such a great time getting to know all my fellow bloggers. And, of course, Colleen is amazing.

  16. […] stories (and why that? ‘Cause Colleen is a hugely huge Bradbury fan, as she made clear in our May interview with her). And if you visit her site today, she’ll have a list of other bloggers who are […]

  17. I just read your book, Map of my dead pilots. It was very good reading… brought back memories. I am in Fairbanks for the summer, flying for NATC. my email is

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